Minnesota had a generally strong road trip that ended with them on a two game losing streak, including a pretty bad 4-3 OT loss at Calgary.
Tampa Bay has done remarkably well, sitting at third in the Eastern Conference with 69 points, despite losing their biggest star Steven Stamkos to a broken leg. They’ve mostly stayed afloat due to the brilliant play of Ben Bishop who has amassed 27 wins and is top-5 in the NHL in GAA and Sv%, and their Diminunitive Dynamos Martin St. Louis and Tyler Johnson. Tyler Johnson, who is 5’9", is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year with 17-18-35, and Martin St. Louis is a borderline MVP candidate, not missing a beat without Stamkos, scoring 25-28-53 for the season.
For all you college hockey fans, keep an eye out for JT Brown, the rookie left-winger who won a National Championship with the UMD Bulldogs. He's done pretty well for the Lightning this season, scoring 4 goals and 8 assists.
On the Minnesota Wild side of things, the big news of the day is that defenseman Jared Spurgeon, which is a big addition to the Minnesota Wild. Spurgeon will free the Wild to move Nate Prosser and Keith Ballard to lesser roles, as Spurgeon gives you 20+ minutes of high-quality play.
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Martin St. Louis
Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Teddy Purcell
J.T. Brown - Tom Pyatt - Nikita Kucherov
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - B.J. Crombeen
Victor Hedman - Sami Salo
Matt Carle - Radko Gudas
Mark Barberio - Eric Brewer
Ben Bishop - Cedrick Desjardins
1. Can Darcy Kuemper rebound from his last two games, in which he allowed four goals?
2. Will the addition of Jared Spurgeon improve the Wild's struggling Power Play?
3. Can the Wild's top line of Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville continue to click?
4. Which "One of Us" will prevail tonight, Former Minnesota Golden Gopher Erik Haula or Former University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog J.T. Brown?
5. Can I come up with a compelling fifth question before the game starts?